independent

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Suspended sentence in Swords child porn case

Swords District Court
Swords District Court

Sonya McClean

A father-of-one from Swords who was caught with over 4,000 images and videos of child pornography almost seven years ago has walked free from court with a fully suspended sentence.

Michal Wojciak (36) of Ridgewood Grove, Swords, Dublin, came forward to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on a signed plea of guilty from the District Court. He admitted possession of the child pornography at his former home in Sandyford on September 19, 2012. He has no previous convictions.

Judge Cormac Quinn sentenced Wojciak to two years in prison, but suspended this sentence in its entirety due to mitigating factors including his cooperation with gardaí, his remorse and the administrative delay in dealing with the offence.

The judge also noted that Wojciak had not come to garda attention since and that both a probation report and a psychologist's report had assessed him as being at low risk of re-offending.

At an earlier sentence hearing, Detective Garda Suzanne Carlos told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, that gardaí secured 'an address of interest' following peer-to-peer software monitoring in which the downloading of a number of images was 'flagged'.

During the later search of Wojciak's apartment, two laptops, two external hard drives and a CD were seized. The items were not forensically analysed until August 2016 during which 681 videos and 3,873 images of child pornography were discovered.

Det Gda Carlos confirmed that the images and videos consisted of pre-teen girls and teenage girls engaged in various sexual activity, including interactions with adults and also depicted girls of the same age exposing their genitals.

One video lasting 24 minutes showed a pre-teen girl masturbating, while another video, of a similar duration, showed an under-age girl engaging in sexual activity with a man.

Det Gda Carlos said the laptops were used to download the files which Wojciak then transferred to external hard drives.

Wojciak made full admissions, although he initially denied that he had "actively looked for child pornography".

Det Gda Carlos told Mr Collins that Wojciak had neither emailed nor shared any of the images and videos.

She said the delay in having the confiscated items analysed was due to 'a major resource issue' within the unit at the time but confirmed that when she took over the case in late 2017, Wojciak came voluntarily to the garda station the following January.

Det Gda Carlos agreed with Vincent Heneghan SC, defending, that his client was 'quite frank' with gardaí, that he treated the officers with respect and 'offered up' anything that was asked of him.

He told gardaí in January 2018'"a lot of stuff happened in the last five years.... I regret what I did, what I did was wrong and I have to take the consequences'.

Det Gda Carlos agreed that Tusla became involved when she learned that Wojciak had a child but she confirmed that if that agency had any 'major concernns' about the man's relationship with his child or other children, she would have heard about it by now.

Mr Heneghan told Judge Quinn that his client accepted that it was a 'horrible offence; for which he had 'expressed his shame and remorse'.

He said Wojciak acknowledged that the images were 'deeply disturbing' but submitted that he was not a threat to children or his own child, or Tusla would have raised concerns.

Mr Heneghan said Wojciak lost his job in 2018 as a result of this case.

Judge Quinn ordered Wojciak to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for two years and to remain under the supervision of the Probation Services during this time.

Wojciak was also ordered to continue to engage in a sex offenders' treatment programme, to take part in any offence and victim-focused work as directed, and not to have any contact, direct or indirect, with any child under the age of 18, except in the presence of the parent or guardian of the child.

Fingal Independent

News